Features | 14th June 2021

Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds tasted Royal Ascot glory 12 months ago with miler Sir Busker and are hoping to re-live that winning feeling in this season’s Queen Anne Stakes.

The five-year-old gelding came with his customary late surge to win the Royal Hunt Cup consolation race, the Silver Royal Hunt Cup Handicap, under a brilliantly judged ride by champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

But a year on, William Knight’s much-improved gelding will step up in class to contest the Group 1 feature on the opening day after improving his rating a whopping 14lb.

Kennet Valley’s racing manager Sam Hoskins is encouraged by Sir Busker’s gallant fourth in last year’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over the same course and distance, and two placed efforts in Listed company this season.

“Oisin (Murphy) rode him in a piece of work the other day and was delighted with him, so we’re hoping for another memorable day, even though the hot favourite Palace Pier will be hard to beat”, says Sam, who is also looking forward to running Kennet Valley pair Dance Fever in the Buckingham Palace Stakes and Equality in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap.

“Last year was an unusual experience for Sir Busker’s 16 shareholders as none of them were allowed to be at Ascot due to the pandemic. It would have been even more special if they could have been there but we made the most of an unusual situation by celebrating with a post-race zoom party.

“This year around 20 owners and their partners will be at Ascot now that restrictions have been eased and will all enjoy lunch before racing at a local pub, owned by Peter Borg-Neal who also has a share in the horse.

“The owners who share Sir Busker come from wide ranging backgrounds,” explains Sam. “Some are relatively young and others are enjoying the experience as a retirement hobby. We’ll give them a great day out whatever happens but the Queen Anne has produced a few shock results in recent years, so who knows.”

Sir Busker, who was bought for just 25,000 euros in Ireland as a yearling, was also second in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket and the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood last season.

Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds are no strangers to big race success, having sent out nearly 170 winners since being formed in 1988 and amassing over £4 million in prize money for shareholders. They have 14 horses in training with Knight, Mark Johnston, Ed Walker, Alan King, Charles Hills, Andrew Balding and Clive Cox.

Dual Group 2 scorer Tullius, Group-winning sprinter Magical Memory and Pattern-class miler Gateman have been their most successful horses so far, but Sir Busker will add his name to that impressive roll of honour if he can repeat last year’s Royal success.

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